In November 2021, Highline Church’s key leadership team participated in the North American Division’s first ever church revitalization boot camp. Ahead of the next Washington Conference church revitalization cohort, Highline members have actively adopted a mindset of revitalization.
With soaring gas prices, a handful of leaders said, “Let’s meet people at the gas station.”
Bennett took the proposal to the church board to request $4,000 for the Jesus at the Gas Pump project. They said yes and the groundwork began. Bennett identified a gas station and approached the manager two months before the event.
“We asked permission to distribute flyers at the gas station and a nearby grocery store, so people would know to come on a specific day and time,” Bennett explained.
On July 10, volunteers showed up at the gas station wearing vests and ready to serve with a purpose. Church volunteers provided $20 in gas for 100 cars, then pumped each driver's gas and engaged them in conversation.
The conversations were structured with three questions: What else can we do to bless the Des Moines community? (Many good ideas.) Would you be willing to help? (A quarter said yes.) Can we pray for you? (Half said yes.)
Recipients of the Jesus at the Gas Pump project were in shock and frequently asked, “Why are you doing this?” Others got out of their cars to take pictures or videos with the volunteers.
“We told them that we wanted to build relationships so people could learn about Jesus and know there are Christians who want to help meet needs throughout the week, not just on the weekend."
“We’ve invited people to our church for seminars, for God’s Closet [and] for food boxes, but we realized we hadn’t gone into the community itself."
A wide variety of people came through the free gas line: low-income families, architects, engineers, pizza delivery drivers. “We saw all types of people,” Bennett noted. “Gas prices affect everyone.”
A pizza franchise owner across the street from the gas station came over to chat with Highline volunteers. He had previously picked up emergency food boxes from the church for his employees and neighbors and wanted to share how he had followed through with what he had promised.
This, for Bennett, was an example of what his mentor had taught him early in ministry. The mentor counseled, “If you can meet the needs of your community and show them that you genuinely care, people will follow you anywhere. They will follow you because they see Christ.”
Highline volunteers — with different ages, genders and ethnicities — joined together in service for the Jesus at the Gas Pump project so they could interact with their community and to see their church grow by God’s grace.